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‘Under the Surface’ by David R Cairns

'Under the Surface' is one of our latest Bridging the Gap under the theme of Shift.

The film is about a series of suicides by young men in Dundee, during summer 2010 and how their families coped with such tragedy. David R Cairns, the director, straight out of NFTVS, poured all his energy and sensitivity into listening to those families, absorbing their pain, and finding ways to translate it poetically so the film will walk the fine line of telling the harsh facts of reality, living in economically deprived Dundee while respecting their individual stories with enough feelings to go beyond the social worker case study, all this in 9 minutes!

The next hard step of making such a film is to show it to the families. Do we go round screening it to one family at a time?  I don’t think David could cope multiplying that experience times eight, so SDI decided to hire a lovely screening room at Abertay University and give those families the experience to see their faces and words projected, while seating in the dark. A shared yet a private experience beyond being in the living room with many other things competing for their attention. A chance to nearly touch their loved ones on a screen bigger than themselves. Another memory to cherish along the other memories of their dead sons.

I had seen the film many times in the editing room, but sitting there in the dark, with them, feeling the rawness of their feelings 15 months on, made it difficult to switch lights on and break the silence. We were all moved, silent tears to start with and eventually chocked words came flooding with thankful words to David for having captured their pain without pointing the finger at their failure to keep their sons safe from their own hands. They felt the respect they deserve and therefore happy to have their lives exposed to the world, only  wishing that BBC Scotland would give them longer than 9 ‘.

I wish this short film a long life.



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